Time to Sell the Cat?


Now then, if you’ve got an exceptional memory, you might recall that a couple of weeks ago I told you about two super bargain wines in the Purisima “Classic” range; the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon. They cost a mere Bt. 299 a bottle and are exceptional value. Let’s face it; you don’t get very much in that price range which is worth drinking, let alone writing about.

One notch up from the Purisima “Classic” range is the “Reserva Estate” range; single vineyard wines. They come from Hugo Casanova Wines and one of their great features – to my mind at least – is that unlike so many commercial wines, they are really true to the grape and bring out the essential qualities of each variety.

Hugo Casanova and his son taste the latest vintage Hugo Casanova and his son taste the latest vintage

These superb wines are made by mixing the best of Chilean terroir, European wine-making methods and modern technology. The Reserva reds are made by ageing 60% of the wine in French oak barrels for ten months while the remainder is stored in stainless steel tanks. This produces elegant, medium-bodied wines and even though they are just under 14% alcohol you’d never guess.

Purisima “Reserva Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (red) Chile (Bt. 459 @ Foodland)

I suppose the first question you might ask is why pay more, when you can buy a jolly good Cabernet from the same company for Bt. 299. Well, it’s the same dark red but the Cabernet character is much more pronounced. The taste is more clearly defined; more sharply focused. This wine is very much the “older brother” of the cheaper one (for Cabernet Sauvignon always seems like a male wine to me).

After you’ve given the wine time to take in the air, you’ll get that typical Cabernet aroma of blackcurrants, plums, dried herbs and spices. In the background you might pick up a dash of mint and a hint of woodiness. Anyway, there’s plenty in there to keep you interested. And I hope you do really give it a good nosing. Several of my wine-drinking friends merely take a few cursory sniffs before having a swig. Not enough. You’re paying for the aroma so you may as well relish it.

And air. That’s another thing. Some people just don’t seem to understand just how much air wine needs. It’s no good whipping the cork out and leaving the bottle on the table for five minutes, even though you see this done in restaurants all the time. Red wine is generally at its best when you just tip the whole lot into a decanter and leave it twenty minutes. No dainty pouring techniques are needed here: just invert the bottle over the decanter and let the wine slosh around a bit.

On the palate, this Reserva is more mature, more rounded with a delightfully soft mouth-feel; plenty of fruit and peppery spices. It’s absolutely as dry as a bone and there’s a pleasing layer of tannin that follows through on the long finish. It has a touch of authority too and would make an excellent partner for hearty dishes; rich stews or assertive cheeses.

Purisima “Reserva Estate” Merlot 2011 (red) Chile (Bt. 459 @ Foodland)

This wine stands out as soon as you pour a glass. It’s very, very dark. All the characteristic grape qualities are there on the aroma: mixed red berries with hints of cherries, blackberries, herbs and woodland brambles.  You might even pick up a distant hint of vanilla and cedar wood. Like the smell of damp fresh earth, the aromas are dark and brooding.

There’s plenty of fruit on the taste and this self-assured wine is as dry as they come, with a good solid base of tannin, a touch of spice and a long extra-dry finish. It also has a striking earthy, elemental quality and almost a kind of grittiness to the texture. This is a splendid Merlot and I think it would show best with food. It needs to be partnered by beef steak, rich stews or other hearty dishes. After an hour, you’ll find that the texture softens considerably.

You might have been led to believe that Merlots don’t have much character, especially if you’ve endured that tiresome movie called “Sideways”. I admit, some Californian commercial Merlots can be pretty feeble, but this is the Real Thing. Yes, it’s a little expensive but both these wines are worth every satang. Sell the cat and give them a try.